The Loved Ones


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The Loved Ones make it easier and easier to love them with each release. Though it could be looked at as cheating to stuff half this EP with cover songs from such well-regarded artists as Billy Bragg, Bruce Springsteen, and Joe Strummer, it could also be viewed as simply smart and in good taste. The Loved Ones have the necessary confidence to take on songs from these guys, and lucky for them, their rough-and-tumble punk is a perfect match to channel the spirit of their influences. As a result, the covers are the definite highlights of the album, with Dave Hause's perpetually bruised wail driving every song with passion and composure, particularly in the solitary moments of tracks like "Johnny 99." But it helps that the band's own songs -- which open Distractions -- are still solid doses of tough and melodic pop-punk in their own right, fit to lead the next generation of pop-punk fans dissatisfied by the emo swoops of Fall Out Boy and their ilk. The resilient "Distracted" and "Spy Diddley" would both fit in nicely on Keep Your Heart, while "Last Call" builds quickly from a reserved, piano-dotted opening into a headlong tale of lies and lost hope. The Loved Ones have molded themselves into a tight and potent punk band with big hooks and a whole lotta heart, and while Distractions may be a holdover release between new records -- a band's gotta tour, right? -- it's a fun, satisfying, and welcome distraction from the soulless music being released elsewhere in the genre.

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